review

Review – Supergirl Pilot Episode


Starting a new series is always exciting, especially when they’re about superheroes… Female superheroes!

I could say I didn’t know much about Supergirl and that would be the biggest understatement ever. I have absolutely no clue about anything related to her or Superman. To be completely honest, I have to say I’ve never really been a massive fan of DC Comics until recently, and that’s thanks to movies, series and, yeah, OK, comics.

When I was a teenager, most of my comics were Image, or similar, or Spiderman. The cool thing about them was that there were a lot of female lead characters. The bad thing about it was that they were mostly hyper-sexualised versions of Barbie dolls. Characters like Witchblade (Image), Fathom (Top Cow), and the likes were really aimed at guys, I guess. I definitely didn’t feel identified with any of them. Even Tomb Raider comics (didn’t remember the publisher, but it seems it’s Top Cow too). I also read Crimson (Image/WildStorm). What all of them had in common were the same: busty women with slim waists, pouty sensual lips, big eyes, big hips, and the weirdest, most uncomfortable postures you could ever seen. Oh, and a lack of clothes.

Good thing Spiderman (classic comics, not the new ones) wasn’t like that! Or manga… The type of manga I read, anyway!

Another comic I loved, which was much better in its portrayal of women was Promethea (America’s Best Comics/WildStorm), by no other than Alan Moore (need I say more?). I also used to read The Sandman (Vertigo), by love-him-or-hate-him, the great Neil Gaiman.

Anyway, where was I going with this?

I’ve never liked Superman (side note, if you’re wondering about the use of italics here, I’m using them when I talk about the comic titles/series, and not when I’m referring to the actual characters and their names), for some reason. He is a superhero by birth, sure, and his alter ego is pretending to be an average human. He’s invincible and all that, and can do pretty much everything. He’s the ultimate superhero, and in a battle against any other superhero, as long as kryptonite is not allowed, he would pretty much vaporise them in a second. Superman is boring, in my humble opinion (and I don’t claim it to be the right opinion, mind you). I never really got into the films, or into the different series (nope, not even Smallville, even though I tried), so all that universe remains pretty unknown to me.

The Batman movies were a totally different thing. Who doesn’t love Batman? I’m pretty sure a bunch of you don’t, but I love him. I love Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer, not Halle Berry, sorry), the Penguin, the Joker (Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger). When Christian Bale was announced as the new Batman, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved every film even more than the one before.

Somehow, I started reading some Batman, gosh, I’m trying to fact-check the titles and I’m getting confused… I think I’ll have to go over my bookshelf, bear with my a second… OK, got them, titles like Batman: Year One, Batman: The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns… So yeah, mostly Frank Miller and Alan Moore.

That got me a bit more into the DC universe. To be fair, I’ve always known a bit about it, I have just never read the comics properly. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve never read Marvel comics properly either. Even Spiderman ones, mainly because my head spins when I think about all the different series and universes and stuff happening. I don’t know how people can keep track of what’s going on… and I’m a fan of the classics, really.

Anyway, I always knew who Green Arrow was, or the Flash, who Iron Man and Wolverine were, who the Green Lantern was, Captain America, Deadpool… I might not necessarily know their origin stories or alter egos, but I knew them. I had read some X-Men… To be honest, I’ve read an issue or two of a lot of different titles.

As you know, I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, where a lot of these comics are referenced all the time. I’m also a big fan of Arrow and The Flash, and pretty much any superhero film out there. When I heard Supergirl was coming, I wanted to watch it, of course (also, Wonder Woman!!). It’s finally out, and I watched it, and here’s my take on it.

Warning: if you haven’t seen Supergirl yet, keep reading at your own risk, as I can’t help but spoil everything that falls on my hands.

As I don’t know her background, the beginning confused me a little bit. So she’s older than Superman, and was sent to protect him? Huh? Never heard of that before, but sure, I can go with it. I always thought she appeared from an alternate universe, or from having lived in a sort of bubble where they didn’t die in Krypton, or something, my bad. Very quickly, they explain to us that she got lost and hibernated for a while, before finding herself on Earth. Superman, now a grownup, takes her to her new adoptive family, and leaves to do his thing, not wanting to be in charge of a bratty teenager or something (I’m assuming that’s what he thought, not that Kara was bratty in any way).

Fast forward to now, and Kara Danvers (no pseudonym? At least Kal-El called himself Clark, although Kara is a more common name on Earth… OK, fine) is a young woman working as an assistant to Miranda Pr-, sorry Cat Grant, in a magaz-, media conglomerate. She gets to work and we meet Winn Schott, her friend and colleague which, despite working at a massive company, and him being in IT and her being… what? An assistant? A journalist? They work completely side to side. OK.

Obviously, Winn is in love with Kara, or at least he wants to tap that. When he asks her out to a movie, I’m thinking ah, he’s the “nice” guy who will complain about getting friend-zoned, right?, but maybe I’m becoming a cynic. Kara says she has a date with someone she met online and then hears Miran-, sorry, Cat, is on the lift and about to make an entrance. She’s a woman, she’s successful, she’s skinny, therefore she’s a b***h… Right? Oh, she’s Ally McBeal! Finally, a face I recognise…

Kara follows her around, because Ally is the boss and she seems mean, and gives her the coffee she has been carrying around all morning, telling her it’s hot. Obviously, it’s not and Ally McBeal is disappointed. I believe this is just to show us how down-to-earth and relatable Kara is, how she could be your friend or next-door neighbour. Such a contrast to mean Ally McBeal who is firing people and not caring, and calling her Kira.

Kara goes to meet the new art director, who seems super laid back and cool, and… Well, hel-looow James Olsen. I don’t remember Jimmy Olsen like that, I would have definitely watched more Superman! Something that irks me a bit is how they refer to Superman, like the big old guy sort of thing, like he’s a presence or something. It feels a bit like Step Up 2, when we keep having these references to Tyler and he even makes an appearance as a wise old(er) sage. We get it, we have a lead female character. She needs a constant reminder she’s connected to a better known lead male character. Kara, as all of us, is completely dazed by hot Jimmy, and lost for words. Aw, she’s so us, so relatable, just a normal girl.

We’re introduced to Kara’s (adoptive) sister, Alex, who looks important and busy and is flying out for business soon. Kara goes to her date, and the guy, who seems like a bit of a douche (welcome to online dating) actually cuts the date short. Pffft… You’re so much better than him! She hears in the news that the plane her sister is travelling in is going to crash and decides to save her and the rest of the passengers. She starts running and jumps to fly. I was happy to see she didn’t really make it on the first try, but hey, made it on the second, that’s still pretty amazing.

Obviously, she stops the plane from crashing. The news, being the news, try to get the public against her because of all the damage she caused to the bridge (seriously, people?), which is a fairly true portrayal of the news these days. Her sister is super angry at her because, you know, Kara just saved her life. She tells her that it’s not safe, and Kara asks her to leave. Fair enough.

The following day, as any of us would do, Kara walks into her job with a face that clearly says she’s wondering whether people can tell. Note to everyone, people can’t, unless you walk in skipping and singing or maybe cartwheeling, people wont’ notice you did something special last night.

What’s the first thing people do after a new female superhero appears in town? Slay her because she’s not wearing the right clothes! Typical. Angry Ally McBeal isn’t happy because they don’t have any exclusive or anything, and James Olsen totally knows, the way he looks at Kara…

Kara takes her friend to the roof to talk. When she says she has something difficult to tell him, that nobody knows but she realised who she was the previous night… Here comes the friend-zoned, not-so-nice comment, along the lines of I knew you were a lesbian, that’s why you’re not into me. I really dislike this Winn guy. He’s an idiot and I want to punch him on the face. Anyway, moving along. She shows him she can fly and all is good.

Or is it…?

There’s a creepy looking dude up to something. He hears about this flying woman and then goes to his secret lair inside a petrol tanker. He has a really weird skin condition on his head and does some FaceTime with some other dude. We learn these two are up to no good and that a General is coming. They mention the plane crash wasn’t an accident and was staged to kill some DEO agents, and then decide to kill Kara too.

Back in the normal world, Winn is helping Kara with her suit. Is he actually sewing? I’m very confused by this guy. She appears with a super skimpy two-piece suit in which she feels totally uncomfortable. Sorry Winn, you’re not going to realise your female superhero costume fantasy just yet. Next, she appears with a super short skirt (as Supergirl does), and asks about her cape, and he replies capes are lame. OK, he’s definitely going to go back on those words, if the promos have told us anything. I wonder how that will happen. He also tells her how pretty she looks without her glasses. There are so many wrong things with this script, I’m starting to wonder if they’re doing it on purpose, to make a statement at some point.

Off she goes to a car chase, and she crashes into something, because she can’t fly properly (despite having saved a plane only recently without any major hiccups). Winn realises that she needs a cape, because aerodynamics. Such a great idea! And now she has a cape. I’m glad for Kara to have such a guy by her side, what would she do without him.

After another heroic act, Kara is caught with some green darts (kryptonite, of course) and taken to a super secret facility, where we meet David Estes from Homeland. It turns out he’s the boss at some anti-alien department (DEO) and Kara’s sister works there. Kara is an alien, so David Estes doesn’t like her. We learn that there are a bunch of angry aliens that found their way to Earth when Kara came, aliens that Kara’s mum had put in prison, and so they’re going to be very mean to her, which is why her sister didn’t want her to show her true self. It makes sense. And jealousy, that too, a bit. There’s a bit more of a male dismissing a little girl, and off she goes.

Ally McBeal has decided to name the flying woman as Supergirl, and Kara is not happy about being called girl. Given how things are going so far, I can sort of see her point, and then Ally McBeal pretty much explains that being a girl is badass, and OK, I can sort of see her point too, and we have the kind of statement I was talking about earlier, when she says:

So if you perceive “Supergirl” as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you? by Cat Grant, Supergirl

And doesn’t that pretty much summarises everything about every sexist/homophobe/racist/etc. comment out there?

Kara is about to get fired, but James Olsen (can we have more screen minutes for Mr. Olsen, please?) saves her by telling Ally McBeal that the photo he has of Supergirl he has it thanks to Kara. White lie. He totally luurrveeesss her, and he totally knows. He does, doesn’t he?

The creepy angry dude with skin problems radios Kara at a frequency only her can hear and tells her to meet him at some place where they will fight. They fight, and he wins. Luckily, the DEO can analyse a piece of his weapon that got stuck and can trace him. Kara is all bummed down and goes home to her PJs. I really like this girl, to be fair. She’s cool, and pretty normal. Her sister visits her and apologises and all that, shows her a message from her mother (real one, not adoptive) and all is well again.

Kara goes to fight the dude from earlier, and defeats him by overheating his weapon (heh). He commits suicide by stabbing himself with a shard. What a sore loser!

High on winning, Kara feels on top of the world and asks James out to lunch. Yep, this girl is officially now my hero. He doesn’t say yes, in fact, he ignores the question completely, and diverts the conversation to the fact that he knows she’s Supergirl. They meet on the roof and James tells Kara that Kal-El, in his wise knowledge, knew this was going to happen and Kara would choose the right path, but he decided to stay out of it and let Kara choose for herself, free will and all that, like a god, really. He (Kal-El) also gave him a present for her, the blanket in which he was wrapped as a baby, which she can use as a cape that won’t disintegrate. Pretty cool present, if a bit weird.

Just before the end, we’re at some extraterrestrial place in which FaceTime guy is talking to a woman, the General. They de-brief and we learn that this woman is Kara’s mum’s twin sister (the evil twin, of course). FaceTime dude states that Supergirl won’t be as much of a problem as Superman (seriously, enough with the comparisons, and enough with trying to dismiss a powerful female) and thankfully, Astra replies that if Kara is anything like her mother, she will be formidable.

In the end, I actually liked the episode. I know it doesn’t sound like that from what I wrote, but I think it’s going the right way. There are a lot of off-hand comments about Kara being a girl, which I think are done on purpose, as if to say that’s what they expect a lot of people are going to say about the series and, fair enough, a lot of people will. The episode makes sure it’s understood that Kara is not a little girl, that she will accomplish great things and she will be able to fight on her own. I like that. I also like that so far there are no big dramas, no horrible origin stories (other than her parents dying, that is) which have led to a traumatised main character. While I love brooding Oliver Queen, and traumatised Barry Allen (although he’s a rather chirpy guy), and Bruce Wayne wouldn’t be who he is without his brutally murdered parents and dark Gotham, I really like the fact that it’s sunny in National City and Kara is rather normal. She works, she goes on dates and doesn’t know what to wear, her kitchen sink is a mess… She suffers from the men around her making comments that are seen as acceptable, even when they’re not. She’s your everyday girl.

I’m sure the series will turn dark later on. I’m sure stuff will happen, but I’m actually looking forward to it. I wonder if Superman (Henry Cavill) and Superwoman (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) will appear on the series (I know she will anyway). I am looking forward to a Kara and James Olsen story, and I still hope Winn gets slapped across the face.

And to end this super long post, I’ll leave you with a great video/ad (a video based on research my company did, by the way). Go, Supergirl, save the world #LikeAGirl !

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3 Comments

  1. Yjoda says

    Love the review! It’s like you were in my head watching supergirl with me……aside from all the anti-superman stuff lol. What can you do eh? Us Superman fans are a minority group 🙂
    I’m not a fan of “James” Olsen but I’ll wait to see how they develop him. Didn’t like the twin mother/Aunty spin too much either. Budget problems? There’s a few other bits too but I pretty much agree with your sentiment. Good pilot headed in the right direction

    • I feel relatively confident it’s all done on purpose, especially after watching episode 2. The conversation with The DEO boss when she’s flying in training avoiding the rockets as to why he’s being so tough on her… And her boss saying she was fed up of the comparisons to Superman. OK, it was all planned, it was a trap!

    • What do you mean you’re not a fan of James Olsen??????

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